INTRODUCTION: More than 10,000 women took part in a pro-abortion demonstration in Rome on Sunday (8 March).
GV PAN Demonstrators gathering in St. Peter's Square.
SV Woman with bunches of flowers. (2 SHOTS)
SV Woman fixing flowers to another woman's hair. (2 SHOTS)
SV PAN Women in line holding posters.
GV Women holding wide banner. (2 SHOTS)
CU Cutouts of children atop banner TILT DOWN TO women with balloons.
CU Heads on poster PULL BACK TO GV.
CU Girl holding banner pole PULL BACK TO GV.
SV Women chanting and clapping.
GV Women marching behind large banners.
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Background: INTRODUCTION: More than 10,000 women took part in a pro-abortion demonstration in Rome on Sunday (8 March). Their protest was part of the activities that marked International Women's Day.
SYNOPSIS: The women gathered in St. Peter's Square, which is a geographical part of the spiritual headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. Many Italian women are upset by the Church's dogma on contraception and abortion, which was long-imbedded in the nation's laws. During the march, there were chants against the Vatican.
Pope John Paul the Second has repeatedly come out strongly against artificial birth control and abortion. Last September, he condemned the practices at an open-air Mass in the Italian city of Siena, and vigorously criticised birth control policies in Asia during his recent tour of that region.
This rally was evidence that the explosive issue has moved firmly back into the centre of the Italian political stage. It came four weeks after the country's Constitutional Court had approved two opposing referendums on the subject. Political observers predicted the proposals on abortion would cause fierce controversy in a country that is overwhelmingly Catholic.
It was felt the political parties would press for early elections to try to defuse an emotional and divisive confrontation. The timing of the 1976 elections was partly dictated by the politicians' desire to avoid a similar nationwide vote on abortion, which became legal in Italy in 1978.
After the Pope's Sienna speech last year, the politician who drafted Italy's first divorce law, Signor Loris Fortuna, said the Pope was attacking the sovereignty of state and parliament.